Brian Friel, birth name Bernard Patrick Friel, born January 9, 1929 and died October 2, 2015, Brian was an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company.
He was considered to be one of the greatest living English-language dramatists, hailed by the English-speaking world as an “Irish Chekhov” and “the universally accented voice of Ireland”.
Brian was best known for plays such as Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Dancing at Lughnasa but wrote more than thirty plays in a six-decade spanning career that saw him elected Saoi of Aosdana. His plays were a regular feature on Broadway throughout this time.
Philadelphia, Here I Come! was turned into a film in 1975, starring Donal McCann, directed by John Quested, screenplay by Brian Friel.
In 1980 Friel co-founded Field Day Theatre Company and his play Translations was the company’s first production.
Neil Jordan completed a screenplay for a film version of Translations that was never produced.
With Field Day, Brian collaborated with Seamus Heaney, 1995 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Heaney and Brian first became friends after Friel sent the young poet a letter following the publication of Death of a Naturalist.
He was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1987 and served until 1989.
Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) brought Friel great acclaim internationally, winning him several Tony Awards, including Best Play, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
It was also turned into a film in 1998, starring Meryl Streep, directed by Pat O’Connor, script by County Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness.
His play Lovers was adapted into an opera by Richard Wargo entitled Ballymore (1999), which was premiered by the Skylight Opera Theatre, Milwaukee, in February 1999.
The first part of Ballymore, “Winners” was given its Irish premiere at the Wexford Opera Festival in 2010.
The second of the two parts, “Losers”, had its premiere at the festival in 2013.
Brian was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the British Royal Society of Literature and the Irish Academy of Letters.
Robert Curvin died at age 81 on October 2, 2015.